Jennifer Ward Oppenheimer passed away after a short battle with cancer on 16 May 2017. She leaves behind her husband, Jonathan, and their children Samuel, Isabel and Nathaniel.
Jennifer was a founding member of The Brenthurst Foundation Advisory Board and an important figure in the Foundation’s evolution and growth for more than a decade. Fifteen years ago she established and hosted, along with Jonathan, the Foundation’s Tswalu Dialogue, which has become one of the world’s leading annual fora on African issues. In support of the Foundation’s mission she drew on an exceptional professional background spanning the fields of law, education, philanthropy and entrepreneurship.
Raised in the United States and educated at Harvard University (AB ’89, JD ’93), Jennifer dedicated much of her professional life to civil society organisations in Africa as well as private-sector initiatives to help drive the continent’s development in part through her long-time chairmanship of the De Beers Fund. Jennifer and Jonathan were generous donors to projects particularly in entrepreneurship, social development, education and ground-breaking research. They supported the study of Africa at Harvard and, more recently, through the endowment of the Jennifer Ward Oppenheimer Professorship of the Deep History and Archaeology of Africa at Cambridge University.
Described by her peers as a ‘vibrant force for good’ who ‘inspired’ and ‘touched the lives of thousands of people’, Jennifer’s formidable intellect, legacy and quiet presence will live on in the Foundation’s work and her many other philanthropic undertakings.